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Martindale - what is it and what is it good for?

What is Martindale?  The Martindale is a unit for quantifying the abrasion resistance of textiles, especially when used for upholstery. Tarmeko Pehmemööbel and Tarmeko LPD have to deal with fabrics on a daily basis. Still, there are so many fabrics to choose from! What should one watch while choosing a fabric? First off one looks at the colour, and texture plus the price of course. Experts will probably value the fabric's resistance as well. When we can evaluate the colour and texture ourselves, the endurance part is probably a bit more difficult. That is why the Martindale unit and test matter. 

The Martindale test, also known as a “rub test”, is responsible for assessing the durability of fabrics. The fabric that you want to test is pulled taut and placed on a plate on the Martindale machine. Small discs of wire mesh or worsted wool are then continually rubbed against the fabric until either two yarns break or there is a noticeable change in the appearance of the fabric. The device works with a 5000 cycle interval and based on that the unit Martindale is created. After every 1000 cycles, the fabric is being checked. The result is that the Martindale will show the level of the rubbing of the fabric. The higher the value, the more durable it is in the fabric friction.

Based on the result gaps, the usage for the fabric has been divided. The categories are:


  • Suitable for pillows and other accessories;
  • Not suitable for upholstered furniture.

2)    10,000 TO 15,000: LIGHT DOMESTIC USE

  • Suitable for occasional furniture
  • Fabric that has to be used indoors and is made out of gentle fibres.

3)    15,000 - 25,000: GENERAL DOMESTIC USE

  • This fabric is meant for everyday use furniture;
  • Be critical while using this fabric! If the furniture, that will be upholstered with the fabric, will be used a lot, consider next category fabrics;
  • Not suitable for furniture that moves, for example, recliners.

4)     25,000 - 30,000: HEAVY DOMESTIC USE

  • Suitable for every furniture piece that is being used a lot;
  • Suitable for moveable furniture like recliners that is being used in public spaces.


  • Suitable for public spaces or homes, when a strong fabric is needed.

What influences the durability of the fabric?

  • Length of fabric fibre - the shorter the fibre, the weaker the fabric.
  • When fibres are woven into yarns they are twisted and this twisting
    gives additional strength.
  • The nature and type of weave affect the strength of the fabric.

Actually, these categories are quite logical, right? Although Martindale's test is a good tool for assessing the quality of the fabric, no one can rely on it 100%. This test result does not guarantee that if your cat decides to sharpen his claws on the fabric then the nail traces will not appear on the fabric. When we put together this post, we also found some facts that were worth sharing for this topic:

  1. Police and ambulance use fabrics that have a Martindale level between 200000 - 500000.
  2. Producers are trying to make more and more durable fabrics but it is difficult to find fabrics over 50000 that are durable and would fit the interior. 
  3. Martindale test is only suitable as a rub test.
  4. The higher the Martindale, the better quality fabric it is. That is why these fabrics are more expensive.

Which fabrics does Tarmeko use? When you go to the Tarmeko official website then for each upholstered product we have the Textile section. There you can see the fabrics in our collection. Tarmeko has divided fabrics into different groups. The bigger the category, the more expensive the fabric is. That would be the easiest way to explain it. The Martindale unit is different in each fabric group. Mainly we have chosen fabrics that are suitable for home or commercial use. The selection is wide!